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Attendance expectations for the new term - 2020/21

Communicating clear and consistent expectations about school attendance to families is important. Lack of regular attendance can contribute to both disengagement and adverse experiences for children. However, we do not envisage the use of penalty notices to enforce attendance where absence is related to Covid-19 will be appropriate in the majority of cases in the autumn term; and ask you identify pupils who are reluctant or anxious about returning. Develop plans for those pupils who have been persistently absent before or not engaged in education during the pandemic. These plans should/could include the use of existing pastoral support, catch up and pupil premium funding and other services to support attendance. Schools should also contact their Local Authority Attendance Officer early on where you have concerns for advice, guidance and support on this matter.

This statement as provided by the government is an addendum to the non-statutory school attendance: guidance for schools. It replaces temporary guidance documents on recording attendance during the outbreak.  For ease of reference, it explains and illustrates changes made to regulations governing school attendance registers in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19) from 24 August 2020 for use in the 2020 to 2021 academic year. It should be read in conjunction with the wider guidance document which gives advice on other usual attendance duties and processes that remain in force.

Attendance expectations

From the start of the autumn term 2020 pupil attendance will be mandatory and the usual rules on attendance will apply, including:

  • parents’ duty to ensure that their child of compulsory school age attends regularly at the school where the child is a registered pupil
  • schools’ responsibilities to record attendance and follow up absence
  • the ability to issue sanctions, including fixed penalty notices, in line with local authorities’ codes of conduct – please see HCC statement under the section on Penalty Notices for further information.
New for 2020 to 2021 – not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Although school attendance is mandatory from the start of the autumn term, there are some circumstances where pupils cannot attend school due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
To make sure schools record this accurately and consistently, we have made changes to the regulations governing school attendance registers to add a new category of non-attendance – ‘not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus (COVID-19)’.
This category must only be used to record sessions that take place in the 2020 to 2021 academic year where a pupil does not attend because their travel to, or attendance at, school would be:

  • contrary to guidance relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) from Public Health England (PHE) and/or the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)
  • prohibited by any legislation (or instruments such as statutory directions) relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19)

In line with the Secretary of State’s expectation that no parent will be penalised for following official public health advice for their child not to attend a given session, this new category of non-attendance will not count as an absence (authorised or unauthorised) for statistical purposes.

Attendance codes

From the beginning of the new academic year, schools should return to using the attendance and absence codes in use before the outbreak (set out on page 9 of the attendance guidance), in addition to the new category of ‘not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus (COVID-19)’:

  • pupils not attending a session who meet the criteria for ‘not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus (COVID-19)’ should be recorded using code X
  • schools should continue to use code X for non-compulsory school aged pupils who are not expected to attend a session, as they did before the outbreak. 
  • Code X is not counted as an absence in the school census.
Examples in which ‘not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus (COVID-19)’ could apply

In line with current legislation, and current guidance from PHE and DHSC, examples are as follows.

Pupils who are required to self-isolate as they, or a member of their household, has symptoms or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19)

View stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.
Pupils who have symptoms should self-isolate and get a test.  Please refer to the link above for full guidance.

Pupils who are required to self-isolate because they are a close contact of someone who has symptoms or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19)

View stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and NHS test and trace guidance.  Please refer to the link above for full guidance.

Pupils who are required by legislation to self-isolate as part of a period of quarantine

View guidance on how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK.
As usual, parents should plan their holidays within school breaks and avoid seeking permission to take their children out of school during term time. Families should also consider that their child may need to self-isolate following trips overseas that require a period of quarantine. If a pupil is required to be in quarantine on arrival in, or return to, the UK, code X should be used in the register.

Pupils who are clinically extremely vulnerable in a future local lockdown scenario only

View guidance on shielding and protecting extremely vulnerable persons from Covid-19.  Please refer to the link above for full guidance.

Local lockdown

If rates of the disease rise locally, schools may need to prevent some pupils from attending. Schools should follow PHE or DHSC guidance on what measures are necessary in the event of local lockdown. Where attendance is to be limited to certain groups, ‘not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus (COVID-19)’ - code X - should be used for pupils who are asked not to attend.

Remote education

If a pupil is not attending school due to circumstances related to coronavirus (COVID-19), we expect schools to be able to immediately offer them access to remote education. Schools should keep a record of, and monitor engagement with this activity, but this does not need to be tracked in the attendance register.

Data collection

Collection of school attendance data as part of the school census will resume in January 2021, collecting data for the autumn term 2020. Subject to the necessary legislation being made, from January 2021, the census will collect attendance codes in addition to absence codes.
Further information will follow on what, if any, additional attendance data will be required during the 2020 to 2021 academic year to monitor the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) and support the government’s planning.

  1. The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 
  2. And their equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland if a pupil attending a school in England resides there. 
  3. Code X is not counted as an absence in the school census. 
  4. The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020 

 

Guidance and statutory responsibilities

10 Day absence reporting
Reporting of pupils with irregular attendance/10 or more consecutive school days unexplained absence or irregular attendance

The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 Section 12 requires schools to inform the local authority of any pupils who are regularly absent from school, have irregular attendance, or have 10 or more consecutive day’s absence without the school’s permission. Schools are also under a safeguarding duty, under section 175 of the Education Act 2002 to investigate any unexplained absences. This form has been designed to assist schools comply with their responsibilities. The form should be returned to your Duty Local Authority Attendance Officer (LAAO) along with a printout of the pupil’s attendance record. The Duty LAAO will contact you if further action is required.

The reporting of a pupil’s absence via this form does not automatically mean that the Area Attendance Team will take further action. Schools should refer pupils to the Area Attendance Team if they require further intervention.

Please return to the Area Attendance Duty Team using secure email system i.e. Schools or Herts FX to:

AttendanceDutyEast@hertfordshire.gov.uk
AttendanceDutyWest@hertfordshire.gov.uk

East area: North Herts, Stevenage, East Herts, Broxbourne and Welwyn Hatfield
West Area: Watford, Three Rivers, Hertsmere, Dacorum and St Albans

Department for education guidance on school attendance – Attendance codes are here

For maintained schools, academies, independent schools and local authorities.

Provides advice and guidance on the keeping of pupil registers and the correct use of attendance codes and guidance on the school day and the school year.

 

Penalty notices for unauthorised absence/holiday

When considering a Penalty Notice by a school, a conversation must take place between school SLT and the LA Attendance Team so that relevant intelligence is shared, and all possible avenues of support explored prior to any application being submitted.  Any PN application received by a school without a conversation with the LA Attendance Team will not be processed.

Education penalty notices code of conduct

Please remember that parents are individually responsible for ensuring their child’s regular attendance. If a child lives with both parents a warning letter should be sent to each parent, as separate penalty notices will be issued, and each parent is liable to pay the penalty.

Education penalty notices code of conduct guidance for schools and academies

We have produced a separate Code of Conduct document, without the guidance for schools and academies section, which will be added to Hertfordshire.gov.uk and available to the public. A copy of this document is below. If a parent asks you for the Code of Conduct, please send them the document without the school and academy guidance section.

Penalty notices school application
ISL (School) penalty notices information sheet for parents April 2019 - please note this information sheet must be sent to parents together with your warning letter
For full information on how to complete a fixed penalty notice application using sims.net

When completing a request for a Fixed Penalty Notice Application to be issued, please ensure that all sections are completed and in detail.

Information sheet for academies on statutory responsibilities relating to attendance

The ISL Attendance team have produced an information sheet for academies regarding their statutory responsibilities relating to attendance, together with the answers to some FAQs.

Information sheet for independent schools on statutory responsibilities relating to attendance

The ISL Attendance team have produced an information sheet for independent schools regarding their statutory responsibilities relating to attendance, together with the answers to some FAQs.

Information sheet for maintained schools on statutory responsibilities relating to attendance

The ISL Attendance team have produced an information sheet for maintained schools regarding their statutory responsibilities relating to attendance, together with the answers to some FAQs.

Removal from roll guidance for schools and academies all schools

The ISL Attendance team have updated the Removal from Roll Guidance for Schools and Academies.

 

Children missing from education

Help us to help safeguard children by using the form on the link below and tell us in confidence if you think you know of any children who are missing from education.

The Children Missing Education (CME) Officer will then check on all school aged children (aged 5 - 16) where it appears they don't have a school place and are not being taught outside of the school system.

A child is missing from education if they are of compulsory school age (age 5-16), do not have a school place and no alternative education arrangements have been made for them.

A child is not defined as missing from education if they have a school place but are not attending regularly, if they are being home educated or if they attend alternative provision such as a college or Education Support Centre.

CME guidance & CME referral Form
Recording absence for pupils from the travelling community

Hertfordshire County Council has issued this guidance to support schools with clarity around attendance and registration of Traveller pupils.
A number of different groups are covered by the generic term Traveller – Roma, English and Welsh Gypsies, Irish and Scottish Travellers, Showmen (fairground people) and Circus people, Bargees (occupational boat dwellers) and New Travellers.   The Education Act 1996 and the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 make statutory provision for all of these groups.   

 

Holidays in term time

Jenny Coles, Director of Children’s Services has provided a standard letter which can be given to parents and carers to support the governing body and headteachers in communicating their decision to refuse a request to allow leave of absence for holidays in term time.

Parent letter (schools) term time holidays In schools only
Process for independent schools when requesting the local authority to prosecute parents for their child’s non-school attendance under section 444 of the Education Act 1996

Parents whose children are registered pupils at a school have a legal duty to ensure their regular and punctual attendance. Failure to do so without legitimate reason is an offence and may result in prosecution. Local Authorities have the statutory duty for taking legal action in these circumstances. Such action is not undertaken lightly, and evidence of work undertaken to resolve the attendance problems is required before any prosecution may be undertaken. Independent schools are responsible for undertaking all the necessary casework including the provision of evidence and documentation to the Local Authority in order for legal action to be considered. The decision whether or not to take legal action rests with the Local Authority.

Independent school - request prosecution

 

Part time students

Guidance on the use of part time timetables for pupils of compulsory school age all schools

As part of the framework for the inspection of services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers (Ofsted June 2015) local authorities are required to provide detailed data on school age children in their area who are not in receipt of full time education and schools are similarly expected to maintain data on students of compulsory school age who are on their roll but attending on a part-time timetable. The Local authority has published guidance for all maintained school, academies, free schools, studio schools, UTCs, ESCs and PSBs on the use of part time time-tables for pupils of compulsory school age ( the term after their fifth birthday to the last Friday in June following their 16th birthday) All schools are asked to return information on children who are on part time tables within five days of the pupil starting or ending a part -time timetable.

Part-time timetables
Part-time timetable form
Information should be uploaded to AnyCommsPlus to LA service ISL-behaviour (file type part-time timetable) guidance

 

Child Performance Licence

Requests for absence to take part in activities requiring a Child Performance Licence

The September 2013 pupil registration regulations amendment regarding absence during term time does not affect authorisation of absence for child performances. The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Regulations)2006, 7(1)(a) states that leave of absence may be granted to enable employment for the purpose of taking part in a performance within the meaning of section 37 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963 (c) under the authority of a licence granted by the local authority.

Section 37(4) of the C&YP Act states if a local authority is satisfied that (where performance dates are given) a child’s education will not suffer by taking part in a performance, then: ‘in the case of an application duly made for a licence under this section which they have the power to grant, they shall not refuse to grant the licence’

Department for Education guidance (Child performance and activities licencing legislation in England, February 2015), section 3.2.1 states: ‘In accordance with section 37(7) of the 1963 Act, where a licence is issued and it specifies the dates that a child is to be away from school to perform then the child’s absence from school is deemed to have been granted such that permission is not needed from the school’

Before granting a licence, the local authority must be satisfied that the child’s education will not suffer. A school letter is requested as part of the licence application as confirmation of this. If a school believes a child’s education will suffer as a result of taking part in a performance, they should provide reasons to the local authority in writing. The information must be specific to the child (saying for example that it is against school policy is not sufficient). If the school does not provide such information the local authority will issue the licence.

Further information on child performance in Hertfordshire is available on the Hertfordshire.gov.uk website:

 

Page reviewed and updated 16/07/2020